I'll admit it. I kinda like antique shops. Don't get me wrong - those dolls with lifeless, glass eyes freak me out pretty bad, and old doilies and flowered china are not my thing. But I love the character and warmth that only come from a vintage piece. When something's a little worn or busted up, it's always fun to see what I can make out of it.
Columbus has a lot of variety when it comes to what I'm going to call anti-antiquing (stuff other than those dolls and doilies.)
Grandview Mercantile in the Short North is a great first stop, with a huge showroom floor filled with industrial furniture, mid-century dining sets, prints from 100-year-old encyclopedias and much more.
On the city's east side, the Heritage Square Antique Mall is another gem. I've picked up a pair of old stadium seats, some dining room chairs, old chemistry lab bottles, vintage maps, and wooden crates with some local history here for my house.
The Greater Columbus Antique Mall is other spot for savvy shoppers - but watch out - you can really get lost in here! Spread out inside a Victorian mansion with many additions over the years, this maze-like shop is never the same on two visits. Every nook and cranny is filled with paintings, furniture, books, and there's an especially nice selection of metalwork at the back of the store, on the lower level.
Columbus Architectural Salvage is perfect if your house is in the historic category. They rescue architecturally interesting elements from soon-to-be-demolished buildings that are almost impossible (or extremely expensive) to find elsewhere. I've picked up a really cool embossed doorknob set, some weathered boards for an end-table project and a really nice vintage bathroom sink - they just don't make 'em like that anymore!